Hey guys! So I’m a PM with 2 years of PM work the whole ‘startup’ scene. I’d like to switch into corporate, and learn more at a company like Microsoft and Google. I’ve always been pretty insecure about my CV, so I’m looking for how to get into something like that.
Thanks for all the advice guys!
I reached out to someone who had my dream job on LinkedIn, and applied to Google as a PM, which got me the fastest reply ever, but got rejected. But the silver lining is that I ended up finding a perfect job for my experiences at a huge company that’s turning ‘tech’ which is hybrid startup/corporate. So I’m super happy! Lesson for me here was: just when you want to give up – don’t. You’re probably almost there.
I’d say that Google is easily the best company to work for, and that they’re pretty open-minded about who they hire as PMs – but that most people who are successful in getting an offer are disgustingly qualified. That usually means top 10 universities, CS degrees, advanced degrees, other interesting experience.
I also think that it’s very difficult to get into a company like Google at your current stage – you’re right at the cusp of APM/PM1 for Google. That is, if you were part of the 2018 APM class, you’d be graduating to PM1 soon if you’d gone through that program. Therefore, it’s hard to hire you as a PM, and very tricky to hire you as an APM, since you’re not a new grad.
That said, I’m happy to help if I can! Feel free to PM me your resume – I’d be open to a VC in the next couple weeks to figure out how I can help.
In the mean time, feel free to add questions here – I’m an open book =)
Hey @Nathan - thanks for being open to questions mate.
Context & Question: I’m a PM (2.5yrs PM, on-track to Snr) with no University background, working at OpenTable. Other than the area of university-tier qualifications, what are some areas I should focus on to be more appealing for Google, Apple, etc.
Also - I’m based outside of US (travel to US regularly). Does Google maintain any non-US offices with enabled PM vertical teams, or support remote employees?
Hey, no worries – glad to help if I can. I’m impressed that you managed to get an APM role with no university background! Clearly that suggests you’ve got skills you’re not mentioning; I’d love to hear about them.
At Google, they are biased toward excellence, regardless of background. I honestly believe that if a homeless person wandered in off the street and gave an outstanding PM interview, they’d hire her. They think in terms of focus areas.
Being based outside the US, limits your options but doesn’t put those kinds of jobs out of the realm of possibility. Google has offices in almost every major country that include engineering teams, but I think that it’s a tough life to be a satellite office for California. That said, I’m happy to provide more perspective if you’re interested in it.
I’m used to the satellite office life, thankfully ;). Working from outside US with US-focused business has its challenges, but tenacity and great documentation goes a long way to build bridges in communication. B2B focus feels like it should be easier than B2C, but you end up having less time zone friendly overlaps to meet with external stakeholders for discovery and validation - so there’s tradeoff… sleep tradeoff :).
I often think about what personality traits are best exemplified in a product-manager. My top 5 would be empathy, creativity, problem & solution focus, inclusiveness, curiosity. I try to head-check myself often to ensure I keep my eyes on these. Traits are always a little visceral and hard to measure.
Appreciate your perspective - and thanks for sharing so much guidance. This burgeoning community can be a little quiet but it’s great to see leaders in the field pop in and provide some guidance. Especially as product management is broadly a misunderstood discipline, especially outside of California.
I find it reassuring personally that you mention how you’d take any applicant who demonstrated capability in interviews and against criteria - even without University. I’ve been very focused on work since I left school and despite my young age (I’m only 27), I feel I’m on a good path. I love the field and work, honestly. It’s such a challenging, and yet stimulating field.
I love those selections. In truth, the things that I have listed are more about candidate qualifications than things that lead to great PM-ness. I completely agree with empathy/inclusiveness – forming lasting and meaningful relationships with people is the single most important thing a PM can do to ensure her own success – or that of her team.
Makes me laugh – I’m definitely not a leader in the field! I’m just a guy with relevant experience and a lot of history in interviewing.
I am very much like you – and I’m a big believer that hard work and true immersion in a subject is the best form of education. I 100% agree that it’s a challenging and stimulating field. As you grow in your career, you’ll always find new and interesting challenges – from how do I build this feature to what’s the right market position for this company to how do I build and motivate a team that executes at a high level to how do I create impact outside of my company for the broader world – it’s a fascinating life! I feel lucky to have found it.
Hey @Juan, great question! I think there are a few things that set top-tier candidates apart:
Aggressive creativity – great candidates understand how to broaden problems and think big while maintaining focus on the stuff that matters
Market-level focus – incremental change is usually uninteresting, but working at a market or company level from a strategic and product design perspective can really help
Deeply ingrained bias toward analytical thinking – every approach is grounded in data, has well-defined success metrics, and uses that analysis as a weapon to persuade others about product proposals
Technical depth – great PMs are able to be technically deep when they need to be, but also easily transition away from that technical depth to describe it to partners and clients who are usually laymen
Structured, persuasive communication – able to simplify problems, break them down, and communicate ideas in a way that makes them sound undeniable. Obama’s speeches are a perfect example of this, IMO.
If you want your resume to stand out, launch stuff that has impact and develop an attitude that exemplifies the points above. After that, it’s just a matter of nailing the interview to the wall =)
@NathanEndicott, That’s awesome! I would love to pick your brain. I had a PM interview at Google and wasn’t selected. I have a lot of interest in joining for many reasons, one of them my technical background and the other of all the great things Google does for the world. I would be interested to hear first hand of qualities that would help Google as well as how to properly interview there. And what I need to do to have a better chance!
@HeatherKurtz, Sure, no problem. I have some other replies in this thread that might interest you, but I definitely recommend working on interview skills. Any idea what it is that prevented you from moving forward with interviews?
I also highly recommend Cracking the PM Interview as a general-purpose preparedness book for Google PM interviews. If you’re not 100% prepped for a Google PM interview, you’re likely not going to achieve a great outcome =).
@Nathan, I’m definitely reading the replies! The interview was very interesting! It wasn’t something I could prepare for very well. Which I tried to do based on reading material Google recruiter suggested (very helpful) in the interview I was asked to role play as a PM on a team working on tech related to diabetes. 3 PMs on a team one PM responsible for the contact lens which monitors glucose levels, second PM responsible for device which injects insulin and I would have been a 3rd PM. This is all theoretical as I was not applying to that team. Question was how I would contribute to the team. I talked about tying the other devices with an App which tracks dietary intake and compliments/aggregates/displays the data from the other 2 devices. There were a few gotchas directly linked to knowing how diabetes works in relation to insulin and sugar levels. I’m familiar on a high level only. And the interview was stressing the question why build if you can buy a software that does it. I felt that my answers were a bit underwhelming. Overall it felt like given some time to familiarize myself with diabetes I would probably not get stumped. The summary was that I had good googliness, scores well on communication but lacked in creativity and analytical departments, which is unfortunate because I know that I’m good at both of those areas as a former software engineer and a consultant dealing on some obscure problem solving in my past life.
Sounds like you had an interesting experience @Heather! I highly recommend tackling problems like that in a few simple steps:
Who are the users: figure out exactly who the user base is, what makes those users special, how much money they have, what other things might be important for those users. It’s important to think DEEPLY about users; it will help you drive insightful and creative answers.
What is the goal/what are the metrics: are you trying to cure diabetes? Are you trying to sell X units? Are you trying to improve life for those users? ARe you reducing the cost of their medical care? Think about what the right goal is for the problem and quantify it with relevant metrics.
What are some of the problems these users face: what’s in the market, what makes their life suck, what would make their life awesome if they didn’t suffer it?
Let’s brainstorm some solutions: free-form ideation of things you could do to solve the problems you listed, with the goals/metrics you listed in mind. Your user insights will really help you here.
Synthesis: bring the solutions, problems, and users together into some kind of a proposal that will move your metrics and reach your goals.
The primary problem people have (and it sounds like you had it) is that they don’t think broadly enough. For example, your market research could indicate that compliance (or lack thereof) with health regimens for diabetes is one of the largest cost drivers for health care worldwide – which is true, by the way. Creating something to help diabetics get regular care, upload and monitor those glucose levels, and achieve better diet/healthier exercise regimen – that could really move the needle. And it’s potentially a good answer because health care is moving toward rewards-based care, anyway… that is, incentivizing people to maintain a healthy lifestyle so they get rewards or pay less for health insurance.
Thank you so much for going in such a detail and truly appreciate your guidance.
I’ll be honest about this interview tonight, that I may get stumped too easily on a head on question I don’t have an answer for instead of breaking it down like you just showed and working toward extracting information from the interviewer. Believe me after the interview I was kicking myself for not saying x or y or asking a certain follow up question.
Wow @NathanEndicott. That answer really gives me hope! I do agree that I am in a tricky spot as far as APM/PM1 goes. I actually did apply to Google APM in USA, and they told me that my CV was very interesting but I was slightly overqualified (“not a grad”, like you mentioned, I suppose!).
Conversely, when I apply for PM - I am under qualified. I have also only worked for SMEs for the last 2 years, so I’m sometimes unsure how much that means to a company. The truth is that I have worked my butt off in Product, in startup, and learned from amazing people - but am having a hard time showing that in my CV, I suppose (judging by not getting the job). I’ve been interviewed by Microsoft (did not get position), and Facebook (position got cancelled).
I did not go to any top 10 university, but am a top candidate at my university + extracurriculars. I have also started my own non profit organization, and company (40,000 revenue in 7 months!) So I am still pretty confused with how to get my dream job.
→ Maybe it would be easier to chat about this if I DM’ed you!
@RobMartin, you definitely have a lot to be hopeful for! You’ve got PM history in tech, reasonably related degree, and a good knack for driving your success in analytical terms. Hopefully I can help =).
Thank you so much for this reply. It is also highly beneficial to me. I also want to start applying for jobs but I still do feel inadequate about my CV. In fact, I’ve applied to about 20 junior PM roles and not even feedback. I don’t know What I am not doing right. I will appreciate it if you can find time to look into my CV too and tell me What necessary things to do.
A little more about me, I am a bachelor’s degree holder and not anywhere near tech.
But I’ve had work experiences that have provided me with skills that’ll help in my journey as a Pm.
Started my career transition sometime in June this year by enrolling in a BootCamp kind of program towards becoming a PM. Had the task of launching a hypothetical project, Amazon Cars, which I delivered successfully. That is the only case study I have on my CV as my portfolio.
I have also fine ahead to get certification towards becoming a PM from Udemy.
With the above, I felt I was ready to start job hunting. but from reading the replies on this thread, I can see I’ve got a long way to go.
Was looking for intern roles and Junior Pm roles before now.
It was my quest to learn more that brought me onto this platform and I am glad for all the discoveries I am making right now.
I will appreciate all the advice and help I can get towards achieving excellence in this career path. Thank you
@Christiana, Am glad that you’ve read the thread completely and am sure you might have found some useful tips. You’ve got it right, it’s never enough to stop learning, but it is also never too early to start job hunting as well.
While you can keep your job hunt on, i would suggest you to send across your CV to me, so that i can take a closer look and advise you further as to what could be your next move that might help you climb the career ladder.